Yucca is a genus of perennial shrubs and trees in the agave family, Agavaceae. Its
40-50 species are notable for their rosettes of evergreen, tough, sword-shaped leaves
and large terminal panicles of white or whitish flowers. They are native to the hot and
dry (arid) parts of North America, Central America, South America, and the
Caribbean. Early reports of the species were confused with the cassava (Manihot
esculenta). Consequently, Linnaeus mistakenly derived the generic name from the
Carib word for the latter, yuca.
Yuccas have a very specialized, mutualistic pollination system, being pollinated by the
yucca moth; the insect purposefully transfers the pollen from the stamens of one plant
to the stigma of another, and at the same time lays an egg in the flower; the moth
larva then feeds on some of the developing seeds, but far from all.
Yuccas are widely grown as ornamental plants in gardens. Many yuccas also
bear edible parts, including fruits, seeds, flowers, flowering stems, and more
rarely roots, but use of these is sufficiently limited that references to yucca as
food more often than not stem from confusion with the similarly spelled but
botanically unrelated yuca.
Dried yucca has a low ignition temperature, making it desirable for use in
starting fires via friction.
The "yucca flower" is the state flower of New Mexico. No species name is
given in the citation.